Saturday, January 3, 2009

Pitt 70, Georgetown 54

Wow. Looks like there was good reason to worry.

All the fears of what Pitt would do if Georgetown wasn't on its game proved totally justified. They were bigger, stronger and meaner up front, and it showed in the rebounding margin. They were deeper -- a fact exacerbated by the inability of Hoya but Summers to make a shot. Pitt is loaded with players that were already very good college players when Georgetown's best players were in high school, and it showed.

Were the Hoyas off their game? Of course. But Pitt is the truth, and that's a bad matchup for Georgetown even when things are going well. Greg Monroe isn't as good as DeJuan Blair and may never be. Pitt shut down Cris Wright, who's been Georgetown's best and most important player so far this year. Summers kept the Hoyas in the game, and it was tied at 40-40 in the second half, but that was the high point. Pitt went off 30-14 from there, and so Pitt joins Syracuse at 2-0 and atop the conference while Georgetown gears up for the next phase of a brutal early-season schedule -- Monday at Notre Dame.

Couple of game-related thoughts:

-As a Georgetown fan, it was cool to realize Vitale was doing the game. I mean, I don't love listening to Vitale*, but seeing him there, mixing it up with the Hoya fans (when did they all get so young?) was a reminder that the program is back on top. You never saw Vitale at a Hoya game in the late 90s or early 2000s.

(* - Vitale disclaimer: I know he's a popular bash target, but we won't be bashing him here. My thoughts on Vitale are pretty simple. I love and appreciate his enthusiasm. I have interviewed him and found him to be engaging and helpful. I just don't, personally, like listening to games when he's calling them, because he doesn't let the game breathe. I mean, it's not all his fault. This is a problem trend in sports broadcasting and was the main problem I had with Billy Packer too. Sometimes, it's just a good idea to not talk and let people watch the game. For a few seconds. That's all.)

-Pitt as a national title contender? I guess why not. I mean, having watched North Carolina play this year, I've seen no evidence that the Final Four will need three other teams. But assuming it's possible for someone else to win the title, why not Pitt? They're loaded with seniors. They're strong up front. Their guards are good (and more importantly, tough) and Blair is as talented a young player as anybody has. It will be tough for anybody -- even Tyler Hansbrough -- to score on them inside. They have a bench that contributes. If they can survive the Big East season without getting too badly beaten up, there's no reason they can't make it to the tournament as a real threat to win it all.

-As for the Hoyas -- the thing we love as Hoya fans is the composure. The trademark of the JTIII era so far is the complete lack of panic. Blair starts the game with a bucket, a steal and another bucket? Okay, but nobody on the other side got out of their game. They ran the offense. They worked the shot clock. (Is there a team anywhere that is less scared of the shot clock? That operates better in its final 10 seconds?) They got some backdoor cuts. They just didn't hit their shots. It happens. Heck, it happens a lot less than it used to happen at Georgetown. And really, until the final 10 minutes or so, when the game was obviously slipping away and they started jacking up bad, desperate shots, they stuck to the plan. They lost this game, which sucks, but a loss like this doesn't really get you down. This is what the Big East is going to be this year -- good, strong, tough teams going chest-to-chest until one wins out. Today, Pitt had the stronger chest.

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